Scientists Finely Control Methane Combustion to Get Different Products

Scientists Finely Control Methane Combustion to Get Different Products

Scientists Finely Control Methane Combustion to Get Different Products

Scientists have discovered a method to control the gas-phase selective catalytic combustion of methane, so finely that if done at room temperature the reaction produces ethylene, while at lower temperatures it yields formaldehyde. The process involves using gold dimer cations as catalysts — that is, positively charged diatomic gold clusters. Being able to catalyze these reactions, at or below room temperature,  may lead to significant cost savings in the synthesis of plastics, synthetic fuels and other  materials. The research was conducted by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Ulm. It appears in the April 14, 2011, edition of The Journal of Physical Chemistry C.

­The beauty of this process is that it allows us to selectively control the products of this catalytic system, so that if one wishes to create formaldehyde, and potentially methyl alcohol, one burns methane by tuning its reaction with oxygen to run at  lower temperatures, but if it’s ethylene  one is after,  the reaction can be tuned to run at room temperature,” said Uzi Landman, Regents’ and Institute Professor of Physics and director of the Center for Computational Materials Science at Georgia Tech.

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